It’s been an interesting year in Beijing for me. Sao has spent some time up here and we’ve come to love and hate it at the same time. Perhaps the worst part of Beijing is the weather. It’s so oppressive and it is rarely ever clear. When it is clear, however, it’s quite beautiful. This issue is a mixture of pollution and just this part of the world in general.
Like any good expat, the first thing we did was a trip around Tiananmen Square. It was a hot and horrible time of year and the sky had closed in around us, so we took no photos. We did get to wander around and use the subway (after some interesting moments.). One thing is for sure, the language here is a major inhibitor to getting around and doing things.
The next item on the list was the Great Wall. My work colleagues recommended Mutianyu as a first attempt and we rented a hotel service and headed on up there. The guide was friendly but in a hurry to get us there and back in record time. She also wanted us to stop and see some touristy stuff that surely got her a commission. Fair enough, that does happen.
Sao enjoyed being accosted, although these guys were unexpectedly rude and demanded hundreds of Yuan for posing. We did not ask them, they just hassled us. 20 each was all they got!!!
The 798 Gallery area was recommended and we’ve enjoyed going there a few times. This image is more recent….. This area is going through a major upgrade (or downgrade according to your perspective) for the Olympics. It is quite a popular expat site on teh weekends in Beijing, with many foreigners and locals winding through the alleys and streets looking for obscure and interesting things to witness, photograph and talk about. There are many little cafes that you can sit at and watch the world go by. It’s a low volume people place and can therefore be quite a pleasnat day out. Cameras are allowed almost anywhere and they will let you know if you’re doing something you shouldn’t.
Certainly the upgrade will bring down some of the atmosphere the place used to engender. It’s being sanitised to a greater egree and this will give it less of an indie spirit. This is sad. Who wants to be mainstream anyway? This was the point of the 798 distric from what I could see.